It’s been a while since I’ve written to you, but I feel like I have so many things on my mind and I just want to get them off! So I am thirteen and going into the 8th grade and…well every thing is just changing so fast. It’s so different, and soon I’ll be in high school! It’s just, well, everyone all the sudden grew up. I changed physically, every one says I just turned into a pretty girl. I got boobs, I began wearing makeup, I’m taller, and I basically care more about my image. And I know I’m pretty, but that doesn’t mean I want to look so grown up like everyone says I do. Anyway, so there’s this guy who we can call Derek, well I’ve known Derek for years since we went to the same elementary, and in sixth grade we really became friends. Anyway, when we got to seventh, we became even better friends. I considered him a very good friend. And then he also bloomed over the summer, he grew and lost all the baby fat he had. Everyone was talking about how cute he had gotten. And then he got a girlfriend a year ahead, and then a couple days ago, I hear they had sex. Not oral, not touching, actual sex. And Derek has always been a very good guy, very innocent and obedient, and his parents are like mine, they would NEVER let him have sex. Even have a girlfriend. And I didn’t believe this, and so the girl who told me, called his girlfriend who is her good friend and said, “when was the last time you and Liam had sex?” And she replied with, “why?” And then hung up. She didn’t deny it, so I believe it. And then all sudden I’m hearing that tons of people have already had sex. I haven’t even KISSED a guy. And now everyone is smoking pot and getting wasted. All I can think is, were thirteen for god sake! And I live in a nice suburban town, not some kind of ghetto. Even my best friend has smoked a couple times, and that just makes me so mad. And people think I’m high all all the time! I’ve never even seen a joint up close. Anyway, all my guy friends have smoked to, and this guy who I think is soooooo hot and who I might go out with, is a stoner! Ugh, it makes me so mad. I just don’t know what to do…popularity wise, I’m not in the highest rank but I’d say I’m doing pretty good. I don’t want to lose that. And I know deep down no one can talk me into something I don’t want to do…but sometimes I just, I just don’t get it…
You’ve asked some very basic questions, and I think readers will be especially interested in your email. I can remember my mother saying that between seventh and eighth grade, her two daughters left their awkward periods and became pretty. Not that I ever felt pretty, but I liked my looks better than I did back in seventh grade. Yet I still felt just as awkward. But to begin, no. Not EVERYONE is getting drunk and having sex and smoking and getting wasted. What is happening is that many members of your crowd are either experimenting or saying they are experimenting with these things. Please don’t enter high school with a middle-school mentality, in which you feel your group of friends reflects the world. When you get to high school, you will be thrown in with hundreds of students from different schools, different neighborhoods, different religions and ethnic groups. There will be clubs and organizations you can join that reflect your own values. Just as small children first believe that their own parents know everything and that everyone else probably lives and believes as they do, so do elementary children and often middle-school students believe that “everyone else” is doing what the most popular kids in their own crowd are up to. When my own two sons were in high school, I was shocked when someone I’d met in a group mentioned that the school my sons attended was known as a drug school. That evening I asked my oldest son if this was true, and he answered, “Mom, if I really wanted drugs, I could find out pretty fast who was selling them, but it’s not like somebody was standing at the entrance offering drugs to everyone who passed.” Show your maturity by focusing on the wider world, not your little group of friends. When you are in college and talking with your friends about first sexual experiences, etc., you will find that most were awkward, embarrassing situations between kids who weren’t ready.